Monday, August 10, 2009

Ground Cherry - Physalis peruviana

Ground cherries taste like a cross between a pineapple, a tomato, and a strawberry. But that's not it...there's something else in the flavor, but I'm not quite sure what it is. They are different, but good. This is my first year growing ground cherries and at first I thought they were smaller than normal. A quick check online showed me that mine are, in fact, the normal size. It took a while to get going in my garden, but now it's growing well and producing some fruit. It doesn't seem bothered by any pests or diseases. I'll definitely grow it again next year. I've heard that people use the fruit to make jam, bake in pies or just eat fresh.

According to Wikipedia:

"Physalis peruviana, commonly known as physalis, is indigenous to South America, but was cultivated in South Africa in the region of the Cape of Good Hope during the 1800s, imparting its common name, cape gooseberry.

As a member of the plant family Solanaceae, it is related to a large number of edible plants, including tomato, eggplant and potato, and other members of the nightshades. It is closely related to the tomatillo but not to the cherry, Ribes gooseberry, Indian gooseberry or Chinese gooseberry, as its various names might suggest.

The fruit is a small round berry about the size of a marble with numerous small yellow seeds. It is bright yellow and sweet when ripe, making it ideal for snacks, pies or jams. It is popular in fruit salads, sometimes combined with avocado.

Its most notable feature is the single papery pod that covers each berry. Because of the fruit's decorative appearance, it is sometimes used in restaurants as an exotic garnish for desserts. If the fruit is left inside the husks, its shelf life at room temperature is over 30-45 days.

Physalis peruviana has a variety of names, mostly of geographic or language use, such as Aguaymanto, cape gooseberry, poha berry, ground-cherry, Peruvian cherry, harankash, golden berry, uchuva, Inca berry, uvilla, capuli or sfivalis.

Native to high altitude tropical Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru where the fruits grow wild, are casually eaten and occasionally sold in markets but the plant has become only recently an important crop, it has been widely introduced into cultivation in other tropical, subtropical and even temperate areas."

Has anybody else grown ground cherry? What did you think?


Autumn Belle said...

Jackie, I have never heard of ground cherry before but it look like a vine we have over here. But ours is a weed and I used to pluck the fruits and press them with our hands and it gives a pop sound.

Michelle said...

Hi Jackie, I did grow them a few years ago when I lived in the SF Bay Area and had a terrible time with spider mites. I thought they were tasty but never got enough to really make anything with them. Maybe they do better in a cooler coastal climate.

Stefaneener said...

They look like tomatillos. I've heard of them but not actually eaten them.